Mueller Says Discover Should Not Be Your Main Source of Site Traffic
An SEO asked Google’s John Mueller about their website’s disappearing Discover SEO traffic. In response, Mueller gave some possible reasons for this incident and warned SEOs against building a business around Discover traffic.
Google Discover is a content feed with a Google Web & App Activity feature that takes into account a user’s online and Google search activities. Users who choose to turn on the feature will see personalised recommendations based on their interests. If a person is looking for a particular recipe, for example, then this type of content will start trending in their Discover feed.
However, because so many people have different topics they are interested in, no single website will dominate in Google Discover. The personalised feed contributes to the randomness of Google Discover traffic. Mueller further explained why Google Discover traffic is unreliable.
Website Experiences Collapse in Google Discover Traffic
The person who asked the question said they have a news site with consistent Google Discover traffic. They asked Mueller why their stream of traffic suddenly stopped. According to them, they had a thousand active users in real-time, but now, they only have about ninety or a hundred users. The person also said that they did not change anything editorial or technical, nor did Search Console report any problems.
The person went on to say that their site is served with AMP, and their CrUX and Core Web Vitals reports are all at the top levels. He was perplexed as to why Discovery traffic would vanish when everything else remained unchanged, despite this.
The Inconsistency of Google Traffic
Mueller began his answer by saying that Google Discover Traffic is not a consistent source of traffic. He noted that Discover traffic is always tricky, and most SEOs would say that they would either get a lot of traffic from it or very little. It only means that any changes happening in Discover tend to be noticeable. Therefore, Mueller told the SEO community not to rely on Google Discover for traffic. Instead, they should see it as another additional source of SEO traffic and not the main one.
Disappearing Google Discover Traffic
Afterwards, Mueller shifted to the next topic about what’s affecting Google Discover traffic. He said that there are a few factors that come into play, and one of the things that could contribute is a core update.
Although he didn’t specify which component of a core update would have an impact on traffic, it’s conceivable that it is related to AI technology that’s used to understand content. It’s possible that it’s due to other factors as well.
Mueller said that Google recently had a core update, which might be the reason for the decrease in Discover traffic. He advised the SEO to analyse if their website went through changes after the core update. They could also double-check Google’s blog posts and other content about core updates to get ideas and tips.
Google Discover Content Guidelines
Next, Mueller referred to Google’s Discover content guidelines as a factor that impacts what types of material will be shown in Google Discover traffic.
He said that depending on the website, Google Discover’s content guidelines could be the factor that decides whether or not a site would get traffic. For instance, if a site has clickbait-y or adult-oriented content, it might be the borderline there with regards to how Google evaluates a site.
If Google’s algorithm encounters such content, the search engine company might decide that it’s just another piece of clickbait content. Afterwards, they will be more conservative when choosing which site to show in the Discover feed. In short, Mueller tells the SEO community to think about two things when they are experiencing fluctuations or a drop in Discover traffic: Google’s content guidelines or core updates.
How Discover Shows Content
Discover automatically accepts any type of content indexed by Google as long as it is compliant with the regulations. There are no special tags or structured data required. However, one should keep in mind that being eligible to appear in Discover does not ensure that the content will be featured.
Google also shows content in Discover from websites with expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T). People who want to improve their site’s E-A-T should consider the same factors that Google requires SEOs to consider for Search. Although Discover and Search are very different, the principles that apply to both are the same.
Google Search Central recommends the following tips to increase one’s visibility in Discover:
- Include interesting, high-quality photos in your content, particularly large pictures that are more likely to bring traffic from Discover. Using AMP or a max-image-preview:large option is required for big images with a width of at least 1200 px. It is also encouraged to avoid using site logos as an image.
- Stay away from ineffective tactics that promote engagement by utilising deceptive or exaggerated details in preview content (title, snippets, or pictures) to increase appeal or by withholding critical information necessary to grasp what the content is about.
- Provide timely content for current interests and trends. Articles should also give unique insights or tell a story well.
- Use page titles that capture the content’s essence without making it clickbait.
- Avoid tactics that manipulate appeal by catering to outrage, titillation, or morbid curiosity
Discover looks for content suitable for one’s interests and filters out undesirable or irrelevant blogs, articles, videos, and other types of content. The feed also removes any content that might confuse readers, such as petitions, code repositories, forms, job applications, and satirical articles without context.
Google Discover: An Unreliable Source of Traffic
The most important takeaway is that Google Discover is a highly unreliable source of traffic, so it’s not something to rely on for a business’ survival. Nonetheless, Mueller gave SEOs some useful measures to take in order to enhance one’s chances of receiving Google Discover traffic and avoid getting banned from it.
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